When anyone asked me if I would be playing any VR games at E3 this year I would quickly tell them no. While I admit the technology is impressive, I have been holding a controller with both hands for longer than I can remember and have no desire to change. I got some serious motion sickness when I attempted to play a VR game a while back and have been avoiding them ever since. Then I saw Moss from developer Polyarc at the Sony E3 press event last week. I was instantly drawn to the beautiful graphics and adorable mouse character. When I saw it was exclusively for PlayStation VR my heart sank.
A couple of days later I ran into the folks from Polyarc on the floor at E3 and was offered a chance to play Moss. I explained my misgivings but was told Moss was unlike any of my previous VR experiences, as the player is immersed but there was no fast movement. And I would hold an actual PS4 Dualshock 4 controller. I reluctantly agreed, stepped into the booth, and put the PS VR gear on for the first time. Once adjusted, I used the controller (R2+L2) to grab and turn the pages of an intricately decorated book, throwing me into the world of Moss.
My eyes adjusted and I was greeted by the hero of this tale, a tiny white mouse named Quill. I was instantly in love with her. Memories of the Secret of Nimh, Runaway Ralph, and more recently the indie comic book Mouse Guard, came to me. Quill’s tiny gauntlet and elven inspired sword were adorable. Players take the role of a spirit who is assisting little Quill on her quest. I was able to look down into a pool of water and see my new avatar, who was very reminiscent of a character from Hayao Miyazaki’s classic movie Spirited Away. I could look left and right in the gorgeous scene, feeling like I was literally transported into this small and magical realm.
Players also control Quill using the left joystick to move, x to jump and square to attack. Combat is simple and very easy to learn. Moss felt more like a puzzle game with platform elements, and Polyarc was not lying, it is truly unlike anything I have ever played in my 38 years of gaming. I felt more connected and immersed in Moss quicker than any game I have ever played. Quill interacts with players with hand motions and even helps give you hints on how to solve puzzles if you are taking too long. She has a bit of an attitude, and I loved it. Players help Quill by moving objects onto pressure buttons, creating bridges, and generally assisting her with anything that will allow our little warrior mouse access to the next scene.
Moss uses scenes, like pages of a book, transitioning between them as Quill finds her way to the next. This allowed me to never feel motion sick as there is no fast movements. I feel like Moss is the perfect mix of VR technology and the gaming platform I have been using my entire life. Immersive, yet still familiar. I felt invested in Quill and her quest in a very short time, and was connected to this world. As I entered a dark and foreboding area, fear for my new friend gripped me as I saw the motion of a huge snake slithering in the background, its eyes glowed red as it came around to strike and the E3 demo ended. Very intense. Moss is the first game I can honestly say made me feel hopeful for the future of VR for older players like me. With a holiday 2017 release planned, hopefully many people will purchase or receive a PlayStation VR this year and enjoy this promising title.